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Tag: Iran

How the Disappearance of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Factors into Alleged Extortion Plot Involving Rep. Gaetz

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

The search for former FBI Agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran 14 years ago, appears to be at the center of an alleged extortion scheme involving a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

The information came to light earlier this week when The New York Times reported that Gaetz is under investigation for a sexual relationship he allegedly had with a 17-year-old girl.

In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday, Gaetz claimed former prosecutor David L. McGee, who has been searching for Levinson on behalf of his family, offered to make sex trafficking charges disappear in exchange for money to help in the search for the former FBI agent.

McGee denied wrongdoing, telling the Daily Beast that the extortion allegations are “completely, totally false,” adding, “This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls.”

The whereabouts and fate of Levinson have been speculated about for years. On the 14th anniversary of his disappearance last month, the Biden administration called on Iran to return Levinson to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, who would be 73, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

He was last seen in a 2010 hostage video. 

Biden Administration Calls on Iran for Answers on 14th Anniversary of Robert Levinson’s Disappearance

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

On the 14th anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance on Tuesday, President Biden’s administration called on Iran to return the former FBI agent to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, whose 73rd birthday is today, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

“For 14 years the Iranian government has denied the U.S. government, the FBI, and most importantly, the Levinson family any answers about the circumstances surrounding Bob’s abduction,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI continues to mourn the loss of our beloved friend and colleague, and the Levinson family continues to grieve the loss of their husband, father, and grandfather. It’s appalling that the Iranian government has yet to cooperate, and we, along with our interagency partners, remain resolute in our efforts to investigate and seek the truth of what happened to Bob.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Levinson’s family.

“I was honored to speak with the Levinson family yesterday,” said Blinken, according to a State Department release. “Since his abduction in 2007, Bob, a father and husband, has missed graduations, marriages and the birth of all but one of his grandchildren. Bob’s family continues to advocate for the answers about what happened after he went to Kish Island in Iran 14 years ago.”

Blinken added, “We call on the Iranian government to provide credible answers to what happened to Bob Levinson, and to immediately and safely release all U.S. citizens who are unjustly held captive in Iran.”

Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. “will remain resolute in our support to the Levinson family and our commitment to pursuing justice for Mr. Levinson and his family.”

“After 14 years and repeated, persistent efforts to secure Iran’s cooperation in locating Mr. Levinson, we are still without answers,” Psaki said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to demand answers and to hold Iran accountable for his abduction, detention, and probable death. We will not relent until all of our citizens who continue to be wrongfully detained in Iran and around the world, are returned to their families.”

FBI: Iran Behind Website Inciting Violence Against Officials Who Defended Election Integrity

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI says Iran is responsible for a website that incited violence against the bureau’s Director Chris Wray and other federal and state officials who discredited baseless fraud allegations leveled by President Trump and his allies. 

The website titled “Enemies of the People” listed images, home addresses and other personal information about Wray, ousted Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs, and roughly a dozen other officials, accusing them of engaging in treason because they “aided and abetted the fraudulent election against Trump,” The Washington Post reports.

Their photos were superimposed with crosshairs. 

Iran, which also has been accused of trying to interfere in the 2020 election, denied responsibility. 

The website, which is no longer online, accused governors in swing-states, voting systems executives, Wray and Krebs of “changing votes and working against the President” in a plot to “overthrow our democracy.” The website made the rounds on social media with the hashtags #remembertheirfaces and #NoQuarterForTraitors.

The FBI notified some of the targeted officials with the following statement: “The FBI is in possession of highly credible information indicating Iranian advanced persistent threat actors were almost certainly responsible for the creation of a website, called ‘Enemies of the People’ containing death threats aimed at U.S. election officials in mid-December 2020.”

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Intelligence Officials in Probable Death of Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

For the first time, the Trump administration has officially blamed two Iranian intelligence officials for the abduction, detention and probable death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, whose 2007 disappearance has been a mystery. 

The administration imposed sanctions on the two high-ranking officers of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, The USA Today reports.

“No family should ever endure the pain the Levinson family has for nearly 14 years,” the White House said in a statement. “Iran is responsible and can end this nightmare by answering questions for which only they hold the answers. Any future talks with Iran must include resolution to this case.”

The Levinson family said the administration’s actions were “one step in a long road toward achieving justice.”

“Robert Levinson will never come home to his family alive because of the cruel, cynical and inhumane actions of the Iranian authorities,” the family said in a statement. “Because of these men and others like them, our wonderful husband, father and grandfather died alone, thousands of miles from everyone he loved.

“No matter how long it takes, we will find the individuals who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, and we will hold them accountable.” 

U.S. officials believe Levinson, who would be 72 if he was still alive, was likely killed while in Iranian custody after disappearing from the island of Kish, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. It’s believed Levinson was on a CIA operation at the time.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.  

Iran Ordered to Pay Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson’s Family $1.45B in Damages for His Kidnapping

Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

A U.S. judge has ordered Iran’s government to pay $1.45 billion to the family of former FBI agent Robert A. Levinson, whose 2007 disappearance while on an unauthorized CIA mission remains a mystery.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly last week awarded Iran to pay Levinson’s family $1.35 billion in punitive damages and $107 million in compensatory damages for his kidnapping, Reuters reported Monday.

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but the search for him has never ended. 

“This judgment is the first step in the pursuit of justice for Robert Levinson, an American patriot, who was kidnapped and subjected to unimaginable suffering for more than 13 years,” Levinson’s family said in a statement. 

“Until now, Iran has faced no consequences for its actions. Judge Kelly’s decision won’t bring Bob home, but we hope that it will serve as a warning against further hostage-taking by Iran,” the family said. “We intend to find any and every avenue, and pursue all options, to seek justice for Robert Levinson.” 

Reuters was unable to reach a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the U.N. for comment.  

Levinson, who would be 72 today, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran in March 2027.  The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

Family of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Gives Up Hope He’s Still Alive

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After years of urging the Iranian government to release Robert Levinson, the family of the retired FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, has given up hope that he’s still alive.

“Today, with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family,” the family said in a statement on a website dedicated to freeing Levinson. “We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.  We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us.  His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them.”

Previously, media outlets had reported that Levinson, who had retired from the FBI, had gone to Iran on an unauthorized mission for the CIA.

For a long time, the FBI had not given up hope of freeing Levinson, and the family up until now, held out hope as well.

“If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today,” the family wrote. “It has been 13 years waiting for answers.  Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him. How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands.”

 Brian O’Hare, president of the FBI Agents Association issued a statement Wednesday:

“The FBI Agents Association, representing more than 14,000 active and former FBI Special Agents, sends its deepest sympathies to the family of former FBI Agent Robert Levinson.  The courage that the Levinson family showed over the past 13 years in their continued efforts to raise awareness about Bob’s disappearance and to bring him home has been an inspiration to all, including his former colleagues at the FBI.

We will not forget Bob and will support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime.  We continue to stand with the Levinson family during this difficult time.”

National Security Investigative Producer  James Meek of ABC News, who reported on the latest development,  posted on Facebook:

“I’m sorry to say I have covered this case for 13 years. Today, it came to an end as retired FBI agent Bob Levinson’s family announced they now believe he died sometime ago as a hostage in Iran. They were told in a recent government briefing, and after years and years of fighting to bring him home, testifying in Congress, confronting Tehran’s diplomats at the United Nations, and never giving up on him, they have grudgingly accepted his fate. A very sad day.”

 

FBI Calls on Iran to Release Robert Levinson on 13th Anniversary of Disappearance

Robert Levinson, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is calling on Iran to release former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson on the 13th anniversary of his disappearance in 2007.

Calling him the “longest-held hostage in U.S. history,” the FBI issued a statement Tuesday renewing its repeated call on Iran to live up to its commitment to share information about Levinson’s whereabouts.

“Bob’s wife and family have been waiting for his return for 13 years, waiting for the government of Iran to make good on its commitment to help make that happen,” FBI Director Christopher Wray says in a new release. “Over those years Bob’s FBI family of agents, analysts, and professional staff have been working on his behalf with our interagency partners and will never cease the efforts to bring Bob home. We call on Iran to provide the necessary assistance and end this long wait so Bob’s family and friends get him back.”

Levinson, whose 72nd birthday is today, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but that hasn’t stopped the search.

The Department of State Rewards for Justice Program announced up to a $30 million reward last year for any information leading to Levinson’s whereabouts. The FBI is also offering a $5 million reward.

CBP Officers were Directed to Detain Iranian Americans at Border, Officer Alleges

Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP officers were ordered to detain and question Iranian Americans at the Canadian Border after Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in U.S. airstrikes, a CBP officer claims in an email to an immigration attorney, CNN reports.

The allegations contradict CBP’s official denial that officers were ordered to stop and question Iranian Americans at a border crossing in Blaine, Wash.

Dozens of Iranian Americans said they were detained and questioned at the border crossing following the killing of Soleimani.

In a Jan. 5 statement, CBP spokesman Matt Leas said “social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

The unnamed CBP officer who alleged there was a directive to stop and question Iranian Americans said the actions ended, but only after the issue “hit the national news.”